My ninth graders and I are working through the progymnasmata this year. The first exercise is writing a fable that evokes a moral. I have elected to write alongside my students whenever I can. Here is the fable I wrote. Please forgive any scientific inaccuracies (I don’t know if fish have eyelids. Nor do I know if salmon ever venture into the sea. I also don’t know when, exactly, salmon swim upstream. Am I going to go through the trouble of googling it? Nope.).
Chris and Jefff
Alaska, we all know, is filled with crystal streams which are, in turn, filled with fish. Two salmon, Chris and Jefff, didn’t notice the slight chill in the air one September morning. This was probably because they were under water. Anyone who knows salmon knows that it was just about time to start swimming upstream to find girlfriends before the winter set in for good. True, in this temperate part of Alaska their stream would never truly freeze, but it was a good idea, nonetheless.
“You heading upstream, Chris?” asked Jefff as his tail twitched eagerly from left to right.
“Nope,” answered Chris, trying to look as nonchalant as possible. “I’m just going to go with the flow.”
Jefff tried to conceal his amazement, which didn’t need concealing anyway since fish don’t have eyelids. They always look surprised. Chris continued, looking surprised, “Every year we bust our fins to get upstream to find girlfriends, and what do we get for it? Nothing but trouble. Not only are we tired, but we have to deal with the womenfolk. Not this year. I’m headed out to sea.”
Jefff, looking amazed, wondered at his friend and, after twenty minutes of fruitless rhetoric, decided to leave him be. Chris always had crazy ideas.
So Chris went to sea, thinking all the while how smart he was, how surprised he looked, and how pleasant it was to go down stream. Once he reached the ocean he started to think how salty it was, then how large that fish was. Then he wondered how a fish could ever grow such large teeth. Then he was eaten.
Jefff, on the other hand, worked intrepidly for his own sake, and that of his species, swimming dutifully upstream. He spent his time thinking how difficult the going was, and thinking about how he was such a hard worker and such a well behaved salmon. As he leapt from one pool to the next, higher up, though, he was snatched by a bear that devoured his dutiful little fish body instantly.
The moral? Work hard or not, we all die. Deal with it.
Have a great day!